Portable Solar Generators

This web-exclusive article provides bonus info on portable solar generators for the magazine story “The Unplugged Cabin: Off-Grid in the Catskills”.

By Fran Sigurdsson Humless-Solar-Battery-Generator-Kit Solar generators are a great option for the off-grid cabin. Unlike gas or propane models, solar generators draw power from the sun, not fuel. They are completely silent and emit no exhaust or fumes. Small portable solar generators can either supplement propane ones for round-the-clock power, or go solo at cabins with good solar gain and low electricity needs like this one. There are a number of brands on the market, so research before you buy. A clean source of alternative energy, “plug and play” portable solar generators are pre-configured and ready to use out of the box. Here’s how they work. Solar generators capture power from the sun via solar panels, and store it in an internal battery. An integrated inverter converts DC electricity (direct current from the sun) into AC (alternating current) needed for appliances. (Appliances are designed to run off pure sine wave power, so don’t settle for a model with modified sine wave inverter.) The Humless 1500 1.3 kWh (100 Amp Hour) generator at this cabin weighs under 50 pounds and features a lithium battery instead of the sealed lead-acid kind found in other portable solars. The lighter lithium battery provides more power for pound and can go longer without recharging. The Humless has an integrated 1500-watt pure sine wave inverter, and comes with your choice of one, two, or three 100-watt folding solar panels. Four built-in USB ports let you charge phones, laptops, or other small electronic devices. Unlike a fixed generator, you can move a portable solar around to get the maximum watts of solar power. You can also take it on camping trips or do as the Hoffmans and bring it home when you leave the cabin to use as a back-up generator. For more about solar generators including the Humless, visit